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Paperback Expecting Adam : A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic Book

ISBN: 0425174484

ISBN13: 9780425174487

Expecting Adam : A True Story of Birth, Rebirth and Everyday Magic

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Book Overview

This rueful, riveting, piercingly funny (Julia Cameron) book is about mothering a Down syndrome child that opts for sass over sap, and it's a small masterpiece of heavenly visions and inexplicable phenomena that's as down-to-earth as anyone could ask for.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

If you've ever loved an exceptional child, read this book.

Maya Angelou once said that "there is no greater agony than holding an untold story inside of you." This piece of work represents Martha Beck's luminous journey towards choosing to mother Adam, her son who was prenatally diagnosed with Down's Syndrome.Like many mothers of exceptional children I've known, Martha has touched on the one theme most of us feel reluctant to talk about--that our lives are peppered with unexplainable, prescient experiences that served to pave our way towards accepting a child that a highly educated world often believes is less than worthy of a chance at life.Because Ms. Beck's Harvard Education and academic's resume brings the reader into a metaphycial journey towards coming to accept Adam through a skeptics eyes, her story seems more credible than that of the average person who sits down to write a book that says "oh, but my child is so much more than what he seems."Martha's tale is as convincing as it is spellbinding. Her range as a writer is vast--she is both a comedian and an accomplished dramatist. Expecting Adam hits its intended mark. It reminds us that every child comes into this world for reasons that often lay beyond the realm of human reckoning. It offers proof that all lives have purpose, meaning and dignity. On top of all this, Expecting Adam offers the reader the benefit of an excellent writer.As the mother of two boys with autism, one who "came back" and one who "didn't", I commend this writer for sharing her story.Ms. Beck's experiences felt universal to me, and true in a way I can't begin to put into words. When I look into my children's eyes, I understand without reservation that nothing is left to chance. Like Ms. Beck, I feel both humbled and awed by the opportunity to mother children like mine.It is impossible to read "Expecting Adam", and fail to see that every life has meaning and dignity.For all things, there is a season...

Wacky, touching account of an expecting mother

I've just completed Expecting Adam which my wife calls her favorite book she's ever read. This high praise echoes my own sentiments although, I did find it was a bit hard to get into the book. But once it happened, I was whisked into the wacky world of a self admitted overachiever from Harvard who is expecting a Down Syndrome child.. As I read I grew to love many things about this book. First and foremost, here we have a master crafter of language weaving her story from past to future.,giving us a glimpse of Adam at his 2nd birthday or a troubling moment. Then gracefully returning you to the present or recent past. Her honesty is slightly raw but frankly I feel that it is something that you begin to trust deeply as the story progresses. If she's telling you the truth about her fears and problems with her pregnancy, she must be also telling the truth about her paranormal experiences. I have read some of the other reviewers who accuse Martha of being a whiner and I can actually understand where they're coming from. I don't personally think of her as whining but someone without a certain kind of background might interpret her self criticism and problems at Harvard this way. My way of viewing her "whining" is that she freely details her frustrations, fears and feelings around stereotyping of down syndrome kids and her problems with her health and raising a family. My reactions to this evolved with each chapter. I felt I grew to understand her frustrations more as I got to know her and in the end grew to love every complaint that she cared to share with us because it seemed to invite me deeper into her intimate world. Beyond this very intimate portrait of Martha and her family, this story also let's us view a spiritual story which began with her pregnancy. This kind of patchwork spirituality was, by the middle of the book, credible and compelling. It's another reason that whinner doesn't quite fit. One more thing that pervades the book is this woman's sense of humor. Her humor happens only occasionally in her book but when it happens it is utterly suprising and delightfully offbeat. I found myself laughing out loud many times. Finally, there is a part of the book which no one I've read talks about. The relationship of Martha and her husband. It's not a big part of the book, but I found myself crying (something I rarely do), over their relationship problems and the way they worked through their issues. These things made the book come alive to me along with her struggles. There are many reasons to criticize this book. It's cursory and yet bizarre treatment of Mormonism, her weird family and her portrait of Harvard as a harsh world. But to me, these are merely footnotes to an inspirational story that touches very deep.

An Incredible Read!

As a mother of an eight month old baby with Down Syndrome, I avoided this book at first because I thought it would be too wrenching and close to home. It had the opposite effect. It has been an absolutely incredible experience. Martha Beck bravely and genuinely shares her true account of her pregnancy and experiences before and after her son Adam's birth. She discovers he has Down Syndrome before he is born but cannot even consider abortion. Throughout the nine months, Martha (and her husband)experience many paranormal/spiritual events. This might seem unconvincing or even wacky from any other source, but as a Harvard trained academician, Martha makes her story not only plausible but grippingly real. Her sense of humor is hilarious and I openly laughed out loud several times! I also openly wept at her raw and vivid descriptions of the revulsion so many of us have for those who are different. I think this book is a fantastic tool for parents of children with disabilities to give to the outside world. This is how we see our children, truly! It would also be a terrific book for any teacher or educator to read. To me, it's been a hope, a salve, an inspiration.

Everyone should have some of those Bunraku puppeteers...

Expecting Adam is not the story of a child with Down syndrome. It is the heart-felt confession of one woman's personal journey from fear to grace. As the mother of an eight year old boy with an autistic disorder, I fought and wrangled with her story for about the first half of the book, and found myself saying "Come on, Martha, tell me something I don't know." Having conceived my second child while my husband was completing his doctorate, I found eerie similarities to my own experience, from questioning mysticism and other-worldly phenonoma, to being in complete awe of our son when he does what we call his "God Thing." Even so I felt she was exaggerating her own experience,and taking liberties with the academic environment in which she lived. Since most readers won't have an insider's understanding of what it is like be the parents of a "non-perfect" baby in the halls of academia, I felt that I would qualify any recommendation that I made by saying, "Take in all the parts except Harvard - she went a bit overboard there."But then, somewhere in the middle of the book, it was as if Martha was right there whispering in my ear, "open your heart..." And so, I did. The next morning, after finishing the book, I was shouting orders to my four children, doing my best Captain von Trapp imitation, and getting nowhere fast in readying them for school. There was spilled juice, slopped cereal, and a screaming baby. My "disabled" son, sensing my mounting frustration, asked just at the wrong moment to have his shoes tied. I threw down the kitchen towel in exasperation and left the room for a few minutes to collect myself. I then sheepishly returned to the rallying cry of, "Lets all be chickens!" And there he was, my son, making the others laugh and smile, clearing away the mess, collecting backpacks, and all the while flapping his arms like wings and making his best chicken sounds. We all piled into the car, slightly late, but smiling, and as he got out he gave me a wet, sloppy kiss. He took me by the shoulders and said, "Mommy, if I ever lose you, my heart will not feel so good." He walked away, doing his best imitation of a man walk, and I drove back home, crying and laughing at the same time.And then I felt them. Martha's Bunraku puppeteers. Or at least, my own version of them. Because at that moment I have never been happier to be parent, let alone the parent of a child with very special needs. All my fears for his future (and mine) were obliterated by a wonderfully calm place in my heart, something I have felt many times before, but could never have expressed as beautifully and honestly as Martha Beck. Thank you, Martha, for putting into words so many of the feelings that I have, but have been too fearful to admit and put down on paper. I hope that I become more graceful in time with my own journey, as you have shown the world that you are with yours.

Read the whole thing in one sitting

Martha Beck dubs her tale "A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic" and sets the imagination churning with her wit and wisdom. An account of a Harvard sociology graduate student from Utah who decides not to abort her Down Syndrome baby sounds more like the recipe for a tragedy than a satire, but Beck is full of surprises. For me Beck's book was a witty critique our success-oriented society, on academia, on pretense and on parents. Beck dreads the mindset that leads our society toward perfect babies, perfect students, and perfect breadwinners, and away from perfect content.This story carries you high and low over the hurdles and under the weather with Martha all through her pregnancy. You feel the harsh sting of the truth, the terror of the unknown, and the crumbling of life-long plans. Over and above all else this book is a secret look at one of the ways in which life manages to outwit our calculations. The strong survive because they bend, because they stretch to fit the life that chance throws in their path. Perhaps those of us who plan our life events as though they were dinner parties are really weak, weak because we do not know how to rejoice in the unexpected.
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